A Powerful Presence
|Family photo time|
Being called into youth ministry at a young age, I never really knew what I was going to be getting myself into. The only model I had for youth ministry was all-nighters at a church, being really loud and excited at speaking conferences, or going all out at a camp for 10 weeks. All of that I knew I could do if I stretched myself, but it wasn’t in my strengths or gifting. Henri Nouwen talks about the ministry of ‘presence’ and how:
“it is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”
So much of our ministry comes out of presence. All of the shocking stories, transformational stories, sad stories, or victories- all of those come out of this main ministry of knowing people where they’re at, in their environment. Before the big moments in teenagers lives here in Langley, comes hours and hours of ministry through presence, and it is an honour to be included in that
Yesterday at the first day of school for grade 8s, I saw a little guy set apart, not talking to anyone. Whenever I had seen him he was quiet and off to the side apart from everyone else (probably nervous from starting at the biggest high school in Langley). He was standing next to a Gator Shade student of mine from this last summer, so I said hi to him, noticed he was wearing a Flash hat, and asked him who his favourite Flash was. We started talking about why he was the best superhero and by the end of our conversation, had a connection and invitation to hang out together at lunch hours. It’s the start of this ministry of presence with this young man. Getting to know his story, sharing mine, eating together, and truly knowing and loving this young man who never received the attention of anyone else for the remainder of the day.
Thank you for being present with me while I’m enacting this ministry of presence. I’m so looking forward to this new school year getting to journey with you alongside the
teenagers of Langley. Thank you for journeying with me.
- Jon Pue